Each year, HDI is helped in its mission by the HDI Strategic Advisory Board, a group of thought leaders who provide the organization advice on training, networking, and the direction of the IT industry. We offer a chance to get to know the board through a Q&A session on our blog.
Here, we ask a few questions of Marni Casanova, Senior Director, Technology Service Operations at T-Mobile.
Thank you for agreeing to be a part of HDI’s Strategic Advisory Board. Why do you think it’s important to give back to the IT service and support community?
For me personally, I feel like IT service and support professionals are often overlooked and underrated. As an executive, it is important to me to provide insights and reflections from my personal experience and champion change and continued investment in this community to continue to prepare for the future.
What lesson did you learn from your biggest success in your career? And from one of your biggest challenges?
I feel like much of my largest successes have been the outcomes of my largest challenges. Throughout my career, I was often “voluntold” by my leaders to accept the challenge of new responsibilities. In many cases, these were functions outside of my current scope or area of expertise. What I learned was to never turn down an opportunity, even if it is going to challenge you to work outside of your comfort zone or may seem scary or unknown. I may not have had faith and confidence in myself at that moment, but others around me saw my potential and were willing to invest. With each of these moves and development opportunities I emerged as a stronger leader, and have had the opportunity to reflect back and attribute each and every one of those moves to something I learned (often about myself and not even anything technical in-nature) that has led me to where I am today.
In your opinion, what skill or skills will be most needed in the next decade in this industry?
Soft skills will always be a must-have in the service and support industry, and the future is no exception. People can be trained on updated and emerging technologies to keep technical skills relevant, but the ability to clearly communicate, manage time, and collaborate effectively have always been and will continue to be critical. If I had to choose one primary skill, I would lean into adaptability. Technologists must be able to adapt to changing technologies, work environments, customer needs, and everything in between.
What are you most proud of in your career, and why?
I’ve been fortunate to receive many personal accolades in my career, but none of them hold a candle to my pride when it comes to celebrating and showcasing the amazing work of my team and the development of my team members. If I had to pick one pivotal moment, it would have been leading my team through the early stages of the pandemic: my team’s ability to pivot our onsite national call centers (14k employees) to a fully remote capability at the onset of COVID-19 in March of 2020, their ability to see the big picture and their direct impact on the business, their ability to be innovative in creating solutions, and their unwavering commitment to working around the clock provisioning and packing equipment – all in a time of adversity when they were personally scared and uncertain of what was to come. It was truly a remarkable process to witness.
You find yourself in a room full of IT service and support professionals and you have the opportunity to give them just one piece of advice to set them up for success. What would you say?
I think everyone in the support industry needs to make the mental shift from working in a role of “support and operations” to one of “experience management”. Experience is more than just the most recent buzzword. Having the aptitude to understand customer needs and expectations and translate those into ways of providing solutions and services is key. Managing a dashboard of KPIs and driving behavior to meet those stats are not going to keep you up to speed with the advancements and maturity happening all around you and the dynamic expectations that your customers will have. Find ways to not just be in lockstep with your customers, but rather find ways to run two steps ahead. This mindset should be adopted across the entire team, from top to bottom.